Sunday, September 23, 2018

They Used to Call ThemYour Golden Years



Those are the years that you hope to enjoy when you are retired. But you don't hear them called that often these days. There are numerous reasons why.

Of course, most people realize their income will be reduced when they are no longer working for wages or salary. And if they are smart they have been setting aside money and investing for when that happens. Even then, however, it is unlikely that most are financially prepared for retirement.

And there are numerous folks who can help with the planning and managing finances for retirement, so I won't tackle that discussion.

There are other reasons why those years no longer seem so golden. With the loss of income there are certain adjustments you will make. Many people take on parttime jobs or start their own business to make ends meet. But it isn't just about how much money comes in.

The cost of being older is greater for most folks. Health care and various kinds of insurance can take up a lot of one's budget. Medication costs have sky rocketed as well as medical services. If you have a chronic disease it will be a constant challenge to keep up with treatment expenses.

Something we don't hear a lot about before you reach Elder status. Depression. It is very common in older people, with good reason. Aging involves a lot of losses. You lose friends when your life changes from employment to retirement. It is important to make and maintain new friends, even younger friends. And at some stage you begin losing family and friends to death. I isn't always easy to let go of people who have been important in your life.

You also lose abilities. As your body ages and you are less able to do all that you once did there can be a kind of grieving involved with letting go. In fact, letting go become an important skill to have as you age. Live can become very different - your social activities and interests may change, your environment may change if you move into different housing situations, your stamina eventually changes and you need to let go of expecting to do as much for as long as in the past.

Letting go of "things" is often an issue. If you need to downsize your living space there are things you will need to let go of because of space limitations, or because taking care of them has become too much

For many elderly people all of this can be overwhelming and leave them depressed. It isn't shameful to be depressed. But it is unhealthy to stay depressed. Don't hesitate to get professional help when you need it. And medication may be necessary because our brain chemistry changes as be age and the medication can remedy that.

But there are also other things to mitigate the losses. If you can't do the same things you did in the past, do new and different things. Learn a new skill or craft. Tap into your creativity. Take a class.

Make new friends. Find new interests and people who share that interest. If you can't be as physical as you were in the past, find ways to help othere people that don't involve the physical. One of the most important ways to defeat depression is to do things for other  people. Make phone calls to check in on people who may be lonely and/or housebound. Send cards, write letters, let others know they are thought of. Share your creativity, make things to give to others or to sell for charity. Volunteer in any way you are able.

You may sometimes feel depressed, but you don't have to stay depressed. No matter how  old you are there are ways you can contribute to family, friends, community. Don't believe it when you think you are too old to be useful. Sometimes there are people who only need a smile and you can make their day.

So prepare for your golden years financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally so you will have what you need when you get there.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

And Then There Were None


The phrase has been running through my head for days. In trying to determine what it means for me, I went through a list.

Vanishing breeds of animals because of human activity comes to mind first. I keep seeing news about the absence of certain animals in the wild. They are hunted to extetion or their habitat is eleminated to clear forrests for hard woods, or to grow crops, or to build cities, road, etc. 

So why does that matter? I believe that all life is connected. With the loss of one part of the circle of life, that circle is weakened. All life is threatened. That includes us.

Then I thought about losses closer to our lives. What happens to our democracy when those who support it are gone? What happens when there are no defenders of our Constituion? What happens when no one trusts the system that sands behind the Constitution? What happens when people no longer speak up for civil liberty?

Will we give up and embrace the autocracy, believing them when they say it will be good for us? 

When no one believes that their vote is important, will there be anyone left to vote for supporting The Constitution and the rule of law? Will it really just disappear for lack of support?  Will there be no one left to fight for human rights and civil equality? Will democracy become extinct?

Recently, I read the article "Madison vs. the Mob," by Jeffrey Rosen, in the October issue of The Atlantic Magazine. Everyone should read it and decide where they stand.

"These are dangerous times: the percentage of people who say it is "essential" to live in a liberal demcracy is plummeting."
What does that mean for you? 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

For a Better World, Become a Better Person

No matter how good you think you are as a person, there is always room to be better. How can we determine where and how we can be a better person?

YouTube offers several videos that can help. I think this one is the best to use to check out areas in our life that need to be improved. Check yourself out against this list of 12 Virtues.



Which virtues do you want to improve? What will you do to actually improve that/those virtues?

We can think of things that would make the world better. I believe that more of us worked on these virtues the world would BE better.

Practice.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How Do We Honor?



Honor as a verb is loosely used in this age. It means to give great respect or esteem. And we just yesterday were reminded to honor those who lost their lives to terrorists in American on 9/11/01. And there were ceremonies at the sites where they died. How do the rest of us show great respect or esteem to those lives?

Some chose to be silent on FaceBook during the times on the clock from the first impact to the last. Some put out their American Flags. Some relived that day in their memories and with the videos in the media again. There were news articles about the continued deaths of first-responders from breathing the toxic dust that day and days after.

So is that the best way to give great respect, high honor? Do we continue to focus on their deaths? Is there a way to honor their lives, not just their deaths? Have we respected their lives?

Do we even know anything about their lives? We heard about them at the time - who had children, who were married, who had been brave, who had been generous, etc.

Perhaps we could hold fund raisers in the name of those who died to fund scholarships for the children and spouses of those who died, including those first responders who survived to face health crises as a result. Definitely we must fund the medical costs of survivors.

Perhaps organizations could be created that support peace-making convesrsations between Muslim and non-Muslim people in cities across the country in the name of preventing future conflicts that result in creating hatred and terrorists.

How would you honor the lives lost on 9/11? Are there ways we can carry the memory of that day forward with positivity in the future?


Sunday, September 9, 2018

I Think My Brain Is on Vacation Without Me!



I couldn't think of anything for this blog post! I had days to consider it, and still came up empty. I thought my brain was not working.

Well, it wasn't working well, that was evident. So I went on YouTube to see if there was any help there for me and my brain. And I found this video. If you have twenty minutes have a look. It can help you not only energize your own brain but you can learn to energize other folks' brains.


Hope it helps.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Hot Enough for You?

Since 1998 the world is getting hotter. Are you a heat lover or heat heater? What happens when you are too hot for too long?


So, be sure to hydrate!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Can You Believe That?


The way we get through life is by the decisions we make. Yes, really. You have the personal power to choose behaviors that move you closer to your goals or away from your goals. But most of us are not very aware of how we make those decisions. We just kind of muddle along reacting to life, to others' behaviors, to circumstances.

What we actually do is act on what we perceive. And what we perceive is base on what we believe. We see what we believe. Think about it. If you believe you will do well on something the likelihood of doing well is greater than if you believe you won't.

And if we see someone behaving a certain way our belief system determines what we interpret their behavior to be - good, bad, stupid, smart, etc. And our perception of their behavior usually determines our reaction. I saw a video clip recently where a guy turns a corner running and the first person he sees he tells to run. They both then are running down the street without the second guy knowing why he is running. We believe that if someone is running down the streat shouting "run" that something is coming that is harmful. After a few steps the second guy looks behind him and sees nothing. Then he stops running, even though the first guy is still running. He challenged his belief and discovered that it was faulty.

There was an exercise I did with male inmate in prison were I ask them why two inmates would have different reactions to the news that their wife was pregnant? They caught on pretty quickly that it would depend on how long the inmate had been in prison, because if he'd been in for more than a few months he'd know the child wasn't his. So while one inmate was thrilled to think he was going to be a dad, the other is angry that his wife has been "screwing around."

What we believe had a lot to do with how we perceive the world and our reactions to it.

So why is this important to know? Because some beliefs cause you choose harmful behaviors and to change those behaviors you have to change your beliefs.  But changing a belief can be problematic, especially long-held beliefs.

These may beliefs you've had for as long as you can remember. They were "taught" to you by your family, consciously or unconsciously. If you've grown up in a very disfunctional home you will believe that your family is normal and their behaviors are normal. All men are like your father or all women are like your mother, etc. Obviously that belief is going to cause some problems for you when you are an adult and forming relationships.

Or they may be beliefs you've learned from your own experience - you can't trust police officers, you must do things yourself because you can't trust others.  These beliefs also have some negative consequences when you base your behaviors on them..

When a behavior choice causes you problems, identify your belief about it and challence its veracity. Is it true? Is it always true? How might you choose a different behavior to respond to the problem? How might you reduce the negative consequences of the old behavior choice? Make a plan to do something different and decide if it changes the outcome.

Alcoholics do this to stay sober. All addictions can be addressed like this in order to make healthier behavior choices. I didn't say it was easy, did I? And if you care enough about changing your behavior it will be worth the effort.

You are what you believe!